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P Collins in 1897 - P Collins & Co Ltd

1897 the business started in this tiny workshop adjoining Ebenezer Terrace. (below)
the main factory Denmark Road
The little workshop at the end of Ebenezer Terrace
After a brief stay in Crabb Street the move to Denmark Road was about 1902.
The factory was extended in 1910.

The Rushden Echo, 4th February, 1910, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Factory Extension At Rushden
Mr. Percy Collins Enlarges His Premises

Mr. Percy Collins, heel manufacturer, Denmark-road, Rushden, has just had extensive additions made to his factory, and he commenced to utilize the increased accommodation this week.

It is 13 years now since Mr. Collins first started in business for himself as a heel builder, taking over a part of a small workshop in Newton-road, adjoining the Urban Council yard. At that time he employed three hands. The business, which has been carried on under Mr. Collins’s personal supervision, has from that time to this gone on rapidly increasing. From Newton-road he removed to larger premises in Crabb-street, and subsequently to a spacious factory in Denmark-road. It is to this factory that the extensions now under consideration have been made.

A Large Wing

has been added at the Newton end of the factory, the work having been carried out in a most efficient manner by Messrs. Clark and Sanders, of Church-street, Rushden, with whose work Mr. Collins expresses himself perfectly satisfied.

Through the extension, Mr. Collins will increase his productive capacity threefold. The extension is on the one-floor principle, with north lights in the roof. The new building is lofty and of large dimensions; it is well ventilated, and has all the modern improvements; block wood flooring is used; and incandescent lights have been installed. Mr. Collins is introducing new machinery of the very latest type, and in every way the business will continue to be conducted on the most up-to-date methods.


The Rushden Echo, 31st December 1909, transcribed by Kay Collins

Boys’ Life Brigade—At the Baptist Church Assembly-rooms yesterday week the annual Christmas tree was held. There was a large attendance, and a very enjoyable evening was spent. Mr Percy Collins represented Santa Claus. The proceeds were over £8.

Following an accident, Percy Collins died in 1911, and his brother Henry, who had been managing the business, now took over, but then Henry died in 1913.

Extract from Soldiers' Notes 1914 - Private Horace Clayton, of Rushden, was manager of the Bozeat Branch of Messrs P. Collins & Co. before he enlisted in 1914.

Horace Wright moved into the property in about 1915, and P Collins and Co. moved to Allen Road, where they remained until 1965 when the company was retitled Putnam Ltd.

Memories 1950s - Anon P Collins & Co Ltd – Allen Road
Revolution Press - Standard Rotary Machines Ltd.

The company directors were C Putnam, S A Putnam, D M Putnam & M C Putnam.

In the 1950’s two brothers, Ray & Stuart Putnam were running the factory. Two men used to come by train from Wellingborough to work there, the rest lived in Rushden. There was a workforce of about 20.

There were 6 men operating Revolution Press cutters. They cut out the heel pieces from sheets of leather, and if the leather was uneven the press knife might flip and cut the operator. Several men lost fingers using these types of press. There was also a skiving machine to even out the thickness of some of the pieces.

All the pieces of each shoe size were batched up into sacks. The sacks were then taken into the making room where the pieces were taken out and gathered together to make the certain depth required by exchanging thinner pieces for thicker to achieve the exact thickness; this job was mostly done by women. Each heel when gathered to the right thickness was laid into a large tray divided into long sections, every alternate heel was rotated a half turn. The tray, when full, was passed to the tackers, who put 7 tacks into each on the curved edge, one in the centre and three down each side. These tacks held the heel together for the slugging machines to complete the heel. This job was done by both men and women.
The heels were laid into trays

Hand Tacker
Charles Putnam also had a factory at Ringstead, and another at Bozeat.
Examples of slugging patterns in soles and heels

Later they also made Dinky heels for stiletto heels.

In Graveley Street there was the Boston Leather Co. who used to cut soles and heels for other factories, also using the Revolution Press. If we got behind with orders, then work would be sent up to them for a day or two, until we caught back up to date.

There was also a heel factory in Windmill road, next to the old Windmill Club; the Rushden Heel Co. Ltd., and in Sartoris Road there was W W Chamberlain who also made heels, but they made other shoe components too.


The Allen Road factory - originally the Rushden Steam Laundry

Henry Collins' Obituary 1913


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